Interview: Introducing UK progressive metalcore act VIRTUE IN VAIN and blistering DUSK // DAWN EP.
SICK AND SOUND presents to its readers an interview our editor-in-chief Alessandra had with HYWEL THOMAS, vocalist of VIRTUE IN VAIN breakthrough progressive metalcore band hailing from Cardiff, South Wales.
The band formed in 2012 and consists of: vocalist Hywel Thomas, guitarist Emyr Thomas, bassist Mason Williams and drummer Daniel Bryant. After debuting with For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore EP in 2015, Virtue In Vain have been extensively touring the UK, portraying the raw aggression in their music with highly energetic and must-see live shows.
They got back to the studio in 2019 and produced the next chapter of the story with follow up record DUSK // DAWN self-released on 17th May 2019.
In this interview we had the chance to get to know this blistering outfit any better, we explored their sound, best on-stage moments and thoroughly discussed their brand new EP DUSK // DAWN.
- Hello Hywel and welcome at SICK AND SOUND. Let’s start by introducing your band, your influences and overall journey so far.
Thanks for having me! My band is called Virtue In Vain, we are a progressive metalcore band from Cardiff, Wales in the UK.
We are influenced by so many bands, our main ones are Make Them Suffer, The Devil Wears Prada, Resist The Thought, letlive. & Martyr Defiled.
We have had a crazy journey so far, playing so many shows. Making friends and going though the emotions of life in a band.
- What’s the mindset behind choosing VIRTUE IN VAIN as a name?
I am a strong believed in anti idolism. By idolising someone, I feel you create a idea of them being better than you. I have many inspirations of where my music style comes from and they inspire me to make music. For me they inspire me to create my own version of music. I do not want to copy what someone else is doing but to create my own way.
- Let’s talk about the soundscape you fit in, progressive metalcore. What features make your sound truly unique and create something outstanding in this scenario? Describe it in your own words.
I fell in love with metalcore growing up. Bands like Killswitch Engage, The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Parkway Drive and so on. These for the metalcore veterans. But since then music has changed and adapted to where we can really experiment with what defines a genre and what music we can create. For us we really experimented with our sound in Dusk / Dawn. We still have that metalcore tone that I grew up loving, but we have added our own unique twist on it with piano and synth that make it a little more out there then what you would expect from true metalcore.
- On 17th May 2019 you have released your new EP DUSK//DAWN following up your previous EP For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore. What is different for this album as opposed to your previous EP and how has the sound progressed or changed, if so?
We approached writing this one very differently to our previous release. Emyr (Guitars) wrote the bulk of the music with input from us all. Our friend Nick Mclernon from Make Them Suffer was teaching Emyr guitar and had a he helping hand in our music and aiding us as a band.
This shaped what was the foundation of our song writing. From there we areal adapted it to what the songs are today.
We really wanted to tackle this release differently to the last one. We wanted to include different aspects that make a good song and create a beautiful story. We still have the brutal breakdowns we love so much but have added more layers to our songs that add that extra layer of depth to each song and the story we are telling.
- I was very fascinated with the dichotomy light/darkness and the dual vision that appears on your artwork. So what are the lyrical themes you have discussed in the record?
Dusk//Dawn follows on from our last EP. The previous one was about loss of identity in yourself and this one tackles what happens when you are at rock bottom from that. The concept of the EP is all the thoughts and actions you have over one night between Dusk and Dawn as that’s when I personally feel my weakest. The EP runs through various themes such as pessimistic and cynical thoughts, toxic relationships, bad decisions and suicide.
All of these themed are played in order and ends with Dawn which is not a happy song but a song about when everything has gone wrong and you are at rock bottom, you can begin to rebuild and recovery from all the negative experiences of your life.
The artwork was based around this theme. Going from rock bottom and looking at a hopeful future. We wanted the imagery to be very clear with the light and dark to fit with the theme and the content of the lyrics.
- Let’s briefly talk about single MARIONETTE. In what measure does this single best represent your music output as to be chosen for a video release? Any details you wish to share on the song.
Marionette we felt best represented us as a band on the release. It’s incredibly fast pace and heavy with a catchy chorus. It was one song that once we played it once, the song got stuck in our head and so it was the obvious choice for a music video.
To give you a little insight into the song, Marionette is a song about being controlled. These can come in many different forms such as work, friends, relationship etc. It goes through the motions of the lies you are told (or tell yourself) and how you begin to believe to fit into this culture. These worlds can become comfortable to stay in as it is terrifying to break free from these bonds. This was the first song we wrote on the EP and it is the fastest song with a lot of emotion in the lyrics.
Marionette was the only title to name this song as I felt that I was being controlled like a puppet when I faced my battle with this matter. It is also a way of paying Homage to the band Make Them Suffer who were a huge influence on this EP.
Virtue In Vain – Marionette (Official Video):
- What were the challenges you had to cope with while working on the record especially as regards the independent release?
The main challenges we find as a band is being our own worst critic. We probably wrote around 2 EP’s worth of content that we kept scraping and remaking since we felt it was not the best we could produce. I think a lot of musicians face that issue and it’s hard to take a step back and release you are over thinking and over doing a song sometimes.
In terms of a independent release, it’s tricky to get traction and interest in your release with a digital market. With music blooming everywhere and more and more talented musicians creating content it is very easy to be loss in the sea of music. However in saying that we have had some positive feedback so far and we are so happy that everyone has enjoyed our music.
- What’s the general writing and creative process when you sit down and work on new materials?
Usually we will begin with a concept of what we are writing about, the story behind the song so to speak. Emyr will then take that idea and create a Skelton of the song on what he feels it should go like. As a band we then go back and forth with ideas creating the song in its flesh and ending it with lyrics.
We have found this way of writing works best for us and allows us to look at ideas independently and create the best music possible.
- VIRTUE IN VAIN have an extensive live experience. So tell us about some of your best on-stage moments.
One of my personal favourite moments has to be when we play Guildhall in Gloucesthire, England. It was a big stage and a great crowd, we were able to really showcase the energy we put into each show at that event.
Another one that comes to mind is when we played The Fleece in Bristol, England for the first time. For myself and Emyr, it was a stage we saw many of our favourite bands on. So to play that stage with our band it was very humbling and almost a nice way of seeing how they inspired us created the opportunity to play the same venue.
One of the funniest and embossing moments to happen to us on stage was, during the first song I had a nose bleed. It would not stop gushing blood but I carried on playing. I managed to receive the comment later that night from a fan saying ‘That was the most metal thing I have ever seen’.
- What else do you have in store in 2019? Any goals and plans for the future?
We have a couple or tours coming up and some new content to stay tuned to our pages for updates.
Thank you for your time Hywel. We are longing for more music to be dropped by Virtue in Vain and supporting you into Europe and US!
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